At Cooperation 2015, Michel Bauwens introduced the idea that we should create a Chamber of Commons to protect the commons sort of like the Chamber of Commerce protects business. Here are some rough notes on the idea. We will be discussing these ideas at a On the Table hosted by Sally Duros and Terry Edlin, Tuesday, May 12.
That day and evening, thousands of Chicago-area residents – from Alsip to Zion – will pull up a chair at gatherings to discuss the future of our communities while sharing a meal together. The Chamber of Commons discussion at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square will be one of thousands of locations across the Chicago region hosting similar events where community residents from all ages and backgrounds will come together to put real issues and solutions “on the table” and share their commitments to helping shape our collective future.
Here are the details, please come out and join the discussion:
Tuesday, May 12
Time: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Location: Red Lion Lincoln Square
Here is a rough transcription the Cooperation 2015 Opening Circle. Michel Bauwens kicks it off with a snapshot of what he’s thinking about, open value accounting (to correct the current tendency of open platforms to get enclosed and taken over by profit-motivated people), open cooperatives (to further define a good thing). Ben Galewski, Sally Duros and John Stephen Bianucci followed up with their thoughts and projects, and then audience members participated. The Fish Bowl set a great tone for deep conversations the rest of the day.
Together, Buffer, Semco, Morning Star, Valve, Zappos, Supercell, stretch across three continents, employ 100,000+ people, and bring in more than $20 billion per year. What do they have in common? They all have transitioned to alternative governance models. Whether it’s going to a boss-less work environment, or organizing a workers’ cooperative, peer governance can really work.
Listen to Semco Chairman Ricardo Semler share his perspective on working, learning, and living.
Cooperatives provide a valuable historical background in light of new paradigms in economic organization, peer production and a resurgence and modernization of the concept of the Commons. Given this idea, a group of stakeholders from the these spheres gathered in Berlin in August of 2014 to explore their intersection. A full paper can be downloaded from here.
As an alternative to capitalism, cooperatives world-wide employee 250 million persons (comparable to large multinational corporations), although they only comprise 4.2% of world product. Part of this has to do with a concept of “missing value” the intangibles created between actual material product and the scarcity-instilled market capture.
These institutions are embattled, with larger ones succumbing to capitalist management styles and the constant threat of sell-out/buy-out by commercial corporations. Small ones, being subject to the constraints of the market, cannot offer competitive advances to attract new members. So what is to be done about this?
The commons has always been problematic, with concerns constantly seeking to en-fence them, first with land grabs now with un-thought-out (or undisclosed) monetization of free and open source software. How do we retain the commons for the use of all without succumbing to these pressures?
These and many more questions were explored in the conversations, proposed development of a new open co-operativism was posited as a solution, and even plans for a transition to the new model were discussed. The report by David Bollier and Pat Conaty is well-worth the read.
Time banks effectively use people’s time and talents as currency for exchanges of value. It’s been effectively used across the world to tackle explicit local issues, such as childcare provision or urban regeneration. They have been successful in delivering small but important local results because they excel at building networks of reciprocal social relations, trust, civic participation and community solidarity. Though the exchange can easily happen across borders, time banks are a true peer-to-peer way to build community locally.
We could have gathered a group of speakers to tell you about the potential of peer to peer with specific experts showcasing what is currently being done in Chicago and globally. Instead, we want the process to mirror the process of community coming together, generating wisdom, sharing talent and knowledge, and doing something together that none of us could do alone.
The “sharing economy” has already been co-opted by the “let’s extract wealth from everywhere” virus. I guess bottom of the pyramid (BOP) wasn’t paying high enough returns at a fast enough rate.
Listen folks, if it is not peer to peer, but instead has some pyramid where a few people at the top make loads of cash on it, than it is NOT the sharing you were looking for.
It is not the sharing economy you were looking for…
The sharing you are looking for is about maintaining or improving your quality of life by connecting with peers to optimize your access to the resources and experiences you need and can provide. That is why we talk about Peers Incorporated, a Peer to Peer Society, and the Peer to Peer Foundation.
P2P refers to peer-to-peer or person-to-person. In the context of Cooperation2015, it signifies a larger movement or body of thought that we now possess the understanding and technology to reshape our world into a more sustainable, human-oriented set of societies. In this article, I will attempt to list some basics that help define p2p. Here is an interview with Michel Bauwens introducing the concept of p2p.
P2P assumes equipotency; every participant has something to offer based solely on their decision to participate. The value of their participation is subject to communal validation.
If there are formal rules, they have to be accepted by the community and they are ad hoc for particular projects.
P2P is de-institutionalized; knowledge/activity flows from person to person as opposed to via institutions or organizations. [NOTE: it could be argued that P2P is just another form of institution. While P2P processes are not entirely structureless, they tend to be flexible structures with internally-generated rules.]
P2P is de-commodified; with ‘commons-based peer production’ or P2P-based knowledge exchange more generally, the production does not result in commodities sold to consumers, but in use value made for users. In other words, the knowledge is free and freely shared, while the service of that knowledge may incur charges. For example, free and open source sofware may be freely used, but it you need help in installing or customizing it, someone may charge to you for that service.
Cooperation 2015 started as an announcement and resource for a p2p conference that was held at the Institute of Cultural Affairs Greenrise Learning Laboratory in Chicago on February 28, 2015.
A broad spectrum of people interested in alternative economies, cooperatives, sustainability, etc. came together to share our experiences, visions, ideas and to network with each other. Documentation about the event can be found here.
Please take a look around. If this interests you, sign up for the site and we'll let you know about future events and other ways to participate.
Check out Ted Wysocki's (the new CEO at the Institute of Cultural Affairs) blog post about Cooperation2015 on U2CANDO